Home | News    Tuesday 17 July 2012

South Africa’s Dlamini Zuma becomes first woman to head AU


By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

July 16, 2012 (ADDIS ABABA) - South Africa’s Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Clarice Dlamini-Zuma became the chairperson of the Africa Union Commission on Sunday, making her the first woman to chair the 54-member continental bloc.

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The Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC), Jean Ping (L) received in his office at the AU Headquarters on Monday, 16 July 2012, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, who was elected as the new Chairperson of the Commission, on Sunday night, 15 July 2012, by African Heads of State and Government during the 19th African Union Summit. (Photo AUDIC)

Dlamini-Zuma replaced incumbent, Jean Ping after a hard-fought election at the African Union Summit being held in Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

The former wife of South African President Jacob Zuma gained votes from 37 countries out of the 51 member states allowed to cast votes.

Mali, Guinea-Bissau, and Madagascar were blocked from voting in the election for the head of the commission as the countries remain under suspension of AU membership for unconstitutional regime changes in their respective countries.

Newly-elected Dlamini-Zuma, who will serve as the Chairperson of the AU for the next four years, managed to oust Jean Ping by beating the Gabonese diplomat by 27 votes to 24 in the first round, 29 to 22 in the second and by sweeping a majority 33 votes to 18 in the final round.

The vote over the weekend was the second time Dlamini-Zuma and Ping had competed for the position this year. In an election in January Ping failed to win the required two thirds majority needed to retain the position, depsite beating Dlamini-Zuma in an earlier round.

Due to the non-result six months ago Ping had retained the position until a vote could be held at the current summit. Last week Ping denied rumours that he would not contest the election vowing to stay in the race until the "very end and hope to earn the renewed trust of our continent’s leaders".

The diplomat that there had been a campaign of "malicious lies and innuendoes... to tarnish my hard-earned reputation and destabilise my campaign for re-election."

The former chairman was forced to defend his record on recent instability in Cote d’Ivoire and Libya. He had to deny claims of mismanagement and that France was funding his reelection bid.

"I refuse to lower the moral threshold for this campaign and hope that all involved in the election will also conduct a clean and decent campaign that brings honour to Africa," added Ping.

Ahead of her victory, Dlamini-Zuma told reporters on Sunday at AU headquarters that the union’s elections must not divide Africa but be seen as part of a democratic process.

After she won, Dlamini-Zuma, pledged to work hardly to boost the effectiveness, and efficiency of the pan-African organisation. It is unclear whether she will step down from her position in the South African cabinet.

Welcoming her victory, South Africa’s ANC Women’s League on Monday conveyed a message saying that “Dlamini-Zuma’s victory is not a South African victory or even a SADC (Southern African Development Community) victory, but rather a victory for the women of the African continent who have long suffered under the oppression of colonialism, wars, poverty, and patriarchy,”

Erastus Mwencha of Kenya was re-elected as deputy chair of the AU Commission. The elections for eight other commissioners is under way and the results are expected to be formally announce in the coming days.


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  • 17 July 2012 07:24, by Biden Osire

    Welcome madam and i hope u will become a good model for Africans not like ur predesecor Ping who was against South Sudan even during separation time and who still support criminals like Omer El Bashir who is indicted by the ICC. So you have to rub out and tell our leaders tat all must retire from presidency every end of his term not to stick like our Musevenis and Mugabes.....Africa lets change p

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    • 17 July 2012 07:48, by Joseph Canada

      Congratulatory message to the First African Lady to lead the continent. This shows the advance thinking of the African continent!
      Hongera mama!! moboruk lek!

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      • 17 July 2012 11:09, by okucu pa lotinokwan

        Congratulation for your Election as the first chairlady in this office,we trust you to do better than men who are money minded,Ping and Mbeki all are taking money from Omer Bashir,Tell the trust this time on the outstanding issues of Sudan and South Sudan.


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    • 17 July 2012 08:16, by SeekingTruth

      Goodnews for South Sudan! Now Mbeki is so scared thinking that Dlamini will block his way out towards money in Khartoum.

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  • 17 July 2012 07:52, by Madina Tonj

    Jean Ping just go home man

    Africa women are coming up very strong in political force and it is amazing to see Mrs Nkosazana Zuma had beat up the man what a good history in Africa continent.? The man failed not to winning in 54 countries please give me a break why are you waiting for man? Get out in AU Office

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  • 17 July 2012 08:18, by jimi

    Mabrooook!! Congrats!!
    As announced early, Dr. Zuma’s top five priorities as follows:
    1)Bridging diplomatic divides
    2)AU reform: Recruiting more qualified people
    4)Mali and
    Surprisingly, no mention for Sudan in Dr. Zuma’s priorities.

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  • 17 July 2012 16:28, by philipdit wol

    WoW!Women of Afrca continent are be come more serious than ever by this time please men take advantage of them otherwise.

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  • 18 July 2012 06:38, by john k

    Congratulation Ms Dlamini for beating Ping and become the head of the continent’s organisation (AU), everyone is in high spirit with hope that you will be their sophisticate leader, take much care about this continent, we wish you all the best.

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